Review: Wagamama Rotterdam

When I heard that Wagamama finally opened a restaurant in Rotterdam on 8 August 2016, I had been wanting to pay it a visit. I happened to be in city center for the Wereldhavendagen, so I planned to have dinner there afterwards. It had been such a long time since I last ate a good bowl of ramen and the pictures on their website looked really good, so I went there with anticipation.

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat view on garden

We decided to have our meal inside, as I really wanted to see how the interior looks like. It wasn't really their fault, but it was really hot that day and I was surprised that there wasn't air-conditioning or at least some emergency standing fans inside. It was very stuffy and sweat drops were falling from my face, while I sat there. I think we were the only dumb ones to eat inside, as everyone sat on the open terrace and the whole restaurant was empty besides us. Or it could be that we went there a bit too early and it wasn't officially dinner time yet. I also saw mosquitoes flying around and a dinner mate got stung on his leg during the meal. The wooden bench was really hard too and sitting too long started to hurt. My piece of advice: get some sitting cushions (or not, if you want to increase the turn-over). We were off to a bad start, but hopefully, the food is worthwhile.     

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat wooden benches
Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat bar table

We ordered some hot green tea and the specific number that corresponds to the mains that we ordered were written on our paper place mats. I like the idea, as the waiters can immediately see which dish belongs to who.

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat placemats


Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat chilli squid

 Chili squid €5.95

I had high expectations for this, but the squid were too hard to bite in and not crispy (fried too long or in a wrong way?) and the sauce was rather bland (no spiciness and no coriander flavor). I also couldn't really taste the shichimi powder (Japanese 7-flavored chili pepper powder) on the fried squid.  

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat pork ribs

 pork ribs €5.50

The pork ribs with Korean BBQ sauce and mixed sesame seeds were okay. There were large chunks of meat on the bone and the meat was tender (it fell of the bone). The only thing was that the flavor was a bit off. The sweet sauce, the sesame seeds, and the flavor of the meat, just didn't become one. I felt that it was better to leave out the sauce and the sesame seeds. I tried dipping the ribs in the sauce that was on the bottom of the bowl, but I just didn't like the taste of it. It was however a nice touch to give us an empty bowl with this dish to put the bones in.


Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat coconut seafood broth

 Coconut seafood broth €16.50

The coconut seafood broth is part of the Omakase (specialty of the chef) menu and some of the dishes from it seems to vary per country. It is a vegetable-stock-and-coconut-milk soup with rice noodles. It has shrimps, pieces of salmon, squid, scallops, and large pieces of mussels with shell. Topped with some baby broccoli, chili peppers, spring onions, and coriander. I took a sip of the soup and it was very rich and delicious. I normally, don't like coconut milk that much, but I wanted to drink the whole bowl of soup by myself. The different layers of flavors (seafood, vegetable stock, spicy chili, spring onions, coriander, and coconut milk) were balanced perfectly.  

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat coconut seafood broth rice noodles

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat pork ramen

 Pork ramen €13.50

It is a noodle dish with a-chicken-stock-and-miso-ginger-paste soup. As toppings, it has seasonal vegetables, wakame (seaweed), menma (bamboo shoots), Korean BBQ pork, and a half of a tea marbled egg. I got to taste some of the Korean BBQ pork and it tasted a bit similar to the Chinese cha siew.

Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat wagamama ramen

Wagamama ramen €15.95

This is the one I ordered, as you might have guessed by the many pictures I took of it. I would feel too burdened to take pictures of someone else's food too long, as I don't want them to eat cold food or starve while waiting for me to finish taking pictures.  

It is a noodle dish with a chicken-stock-and-miso-ginger-paste soup. On top, it has a bit of everything, which is one of the main reasons I ordered this. It has grilled chicken, BBQ pork, shrimps, chikuwa (slices of Japanese grilled fish paste tubes), and mussels. Also, a half of a tea marbled egg, wakame (seaweed), menma (bamboo shoots), and spring onions.

First off, the noodles were soggy and soft. It didn't have the appearance, flavor, and texture of the ramen noodles I ate in Japan. They seem to be similar to flat, Chinese noodles or somen noodles (flower-based). It made right, it could be tasty, but I prefer a different kind of noodle.

I didn't really like the chicken-stock-and-miso-ginger-paste soup. It tasted a bit like a light chicken soup to me and it wasn't really special. What I think of the toppings: the grilled chicken (two large pieces, no grilled flavor and too dry), BBQ pork (a bit little, as the small pieces of pork that you see in the picture is all I got, but tasted good), the shrimps (small, but they tasted good and crispy skin), chikuwa (4 thin slices, but good fish flavor and chewiness), mussels (small and a bit dry; the large mussel in the last picture was given to me from the one who had the coconut seafood broth), half of a tea marbled egg (the egg was on the dry side and not much flavor from the tea marbling), wakame (a generous amount and tasty, thinly sliced, and chewy), menma (small pieces, nice crunch, distinct "stinky" flavor, but that's normal), and spring onions (very fresh and full of flavor).     
Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat wagamama ramen assorted toppings
Wagamama Rotterdam witte de withstraat wagamama ramen close up

 What do I think?

I wanted to like the Wagamama ramen I ordered, but the main ingredient (the noodles) wasn't to my liking. The toppings were great, except for the chicken, which was dry and a bit lacking in flavor. When I tried the pork from the pork ramen, I realized that the pork I got was more special. All my toppings seemed to have been shortly grilled and have a great grilled flavor. I am not sure, but I think a bit too much MSG got into the ramen soup, as only the people who ordered the ramen had a dry mouth for the whole night. I know it is normal for Asian restaurants to use MSG and most of them do, but I am not used to it, so I react quite badly to it. The coconut seafood broth however tasted great, as coconut milk has a strong, fragrant flavor on its own (no need for MSG, or very little), so the next time, I might order that instead. You also seem to get more value for your money, as you get a lot of seafood.

The kitchen might also still be having some start-up problems, as I visited close to opening date (it was open a month or so). I hope it will improve more in the future.     

I was also pleasantly surprised by the cups of hot green tea, which were free of charge. The cup was a bit small, but the green tea flavor was really strong and good. It is not the weak, Western green tea bag kind.    

 Wagamama restaurant Rotterdam
Witte de withstraat 83-85 
Opening hours
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday: 12:00 - 22:00
Friday and Saturday:  12:00 - 23:00
Free wifi, open terrace, no. of seats indoors: 157 and no. of seat outdoors: 48

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